This week in: American Football

The National Football League returns this Thursday, September 8th, with a matchup of the last two Super-Bowl winners – the reigning Champion Green Bay Packers hosting the New Orleans Saints.  As the preparations for this season were disrupted

Last year’s Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers

by a lockout, teams that have returning quarterbacks and coaches are at a clear advantage over those who have new people learning the playbooks. Both of these sides have such stability, and the Packers, who only made it into the playoffs thanks to an improbable comeback by the Eagles against the Giants, return hoping to stay healthier than last year.  If they do, they have the chance to make the postseason as a Number 1 seed and have an excellent opportunity to win back-to-back Super Bowls.

Elsewhere this week, the rival Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers face off in the first game of the regular season, and the Indianapolis Colts face the Houston Texans in a repeat of last year’s first fixture which saw an upset as the Texans beat Peyton Manning’s Colts.  With Manning’s fitness in doubt, a condition which could see the QB end his streak of 227 consecutive NFL game starts,  the Houston Texans will like their chances of beginning 2011 with a win.  Also, the new superteam, the Philadelphia Eagles, have a tough opening trip to a rejuvenated St. Louis Rams team –  the dome atmosphere could help the Rams to a surprise victory over Michael Vick’s highly rated Eagles.

Season Picks

NFC North – Packers                                                    AFC North – Ravens

NFC South – Saints                                                       AFC South – Titans

NFC East – Cowboys                                                    AFC East – Patriots

NFC West – Cardinals                                                 AFC West – Chargers

Wild Cards – Eagles, Falcons                                   Wild Cards – Colts, Steelers

NFC: Packers over Saints                                          AFC: Patriots over Chargers

Superbowl: Packers over Patriots

Each week I will also pick the winner of each game, but to make it harder, I’ll go against the spread* – as laid out by ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game: (home team in bold)

Packers – 4.5 over Saints

Falcons -2.5 over Bears

Bills +6.5 over Chiefs

Browns -4.5 over Bengals

Buccaneers -3.5 over Lions

Titans +3.5 over Jaguars

Texans -2.5 over Colts

Rams +5.5 over Eagles

Ravens -2.5 over Steelers

Chargers -8.5 over Vikings

Redskins +3.5 over Giants

Cardinals -5.5 over Panthers

Seahawks +5.5 over 49ers

Cowboys +4.5 over Jets

Broncos -0.5 over Raiders

*The spread basically handicaps the teams, so for example the Packers have -4.5 favourites over the Saints, meaning a win by 5 or more points would be a win for Green Bay, but a win by 4 or less points or a Saints win is a New Orleans win against the spread.

You can also pick against me by joining the group on ESPN Political Footballs, or by clicking here

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